How do you talk to your lawyers about LinkedIn?

Show them the numbers. And the numbers strongly suggest that buyers of legal services are joining social networks in droves.

We recently searched LinkedIn for members employed by Fortune 500 companies who have titles that would place them in the legal department. Here’s what we found:

  • 145 general counsel had LinkedIn accounts.
  • 93 percent of the companies had law department leaders with profiles on LinkedIn.
  • 90 percent of the law departments were actively using LinkedIn (measured by 10 or more lawyers having an account).
  • The company lawyers sampled on average had more than 250 connections on LinkedIn.

We took a similar look at Am Law 100 law firms. We found that:

  • At several of the nation’s largest firms, as few as 50 percent of the partners had LinkedIn profiles.
  • Only 26 of the firms used LinkedIn company pages to share updates.
  • Only 32 of the firms used quick links from their website homepages to LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
  • A mere 28 of the Am Law 100 firms featured blogs on their websites.

The bottom line is that buyers of legal services seem more engaged online than do their law firm counterparts. What to do about it? Here are some tips:

  • Encourage your lawyers to maintain robust online profiles (include a photo, descriptive job title, involvement in organizations, experience and skills that would appeal to clients). Social media not only provide opportunities to expand an individual’s brand, they also are an entirely new way to interact with colleagues and clients.
  • Consider creating a team blog, to share the investment in time needed for daily or weekly feeds. Maintaining a blog can be daunting, but they are a trusted source of information for in-house lawyers.
  • Use a company page on LinkedIn and Facebook to share news by posting updates, including news about your firm or articles about attorneys’ expertise.
  • Consider creating a group on LinkedIn to allow colleagues with similar interests to congregate. Select a topic that touches on an area of expertise and encourage attorneys to join other groups to enhance their visibility.
  • Sync LinkedIn accounts with Microsoft Outlook email to streamline the flow of communications with attorneys’ connections.
  • Share information with prospective clients and colleagues (news articles, blog posts, client alerts).
  • As they would with a business card, lawyers need to make a habit of following up with people they meet by connecting with them via their social media platforms.

Keep in mind that using social media for business development is a marathon, not a sprint. Building relationships takes time, and social media tools like LinkedIn are just one way to help grow a book of business.

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